Greetings my esteemed members of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.
In Luke’s Gospel, the angel said unto the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
As we meditate on this Bible passage and celebrate the season of Christ’s birth, it is an opportunity to reflect on 2020 and focus our attention on 2021.
I recall around this time last year, that I addressed you in person at our annual end of year event. My message to you was entitled, “The Next Chapter”. Prophetic one may say, but the truth is COVID-19 has written a new chapter in the history of our lives. This year, my theme is “Adapting to Change”.
It has been said, “Any change, even a change for the better is always accompanied by discomfort.”
As we continue to adjust to a new way of living and working I urge you to adapt to the new processes, bearing in mind that change brings opportunities and must be readily accepted, especially as it affects our daily lives and livelihood.
As Albert Einstein stated, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
Over the past nine months, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many disruptions in our way of life both our private and professional lives. The government of Antigua and Barbuda declared a State of Emergency which caused us to adjust to new measures and adapt different approaches.
Not only are we expected to ensure the safety and security of this nation, but are now called upon to enforce the health regulations and protocols. We have all recognised that we cannot change the present situation but we can change our attitudes towards it.
It is challenging and demands longer hours. It also exposes us to risks of contracting this deadly virus. Unfortunately, we were not spared its impacts, as two members became infected, while several others were quarantined as a precautionary measure. I am thankful that they have all fully recovered and are providing great service to our nation.
As I review the force’s successes for 2020, there is much to be thankful for. Although the pandemic affected us, we kept true to our mandate. In many instances we were asked to go above and beyond to provide a safe environment for our health care workers and by extension the residents and citizens of Antigua and Barbuda.
In spite of the additional burdens placed on our limited human resources and our present poor working conditions, you the men and women of this noble organization stood up bravely and proudly and served well. I applaud you for your commitment and loyalty.
This pandemic has forced us to be creative and it has given us the opportunity as an organization to capitalise on training and development of our officers. We entered 2020 with several goals and objectives to significantly improve the general skills-set and capabilities of officers within the police force. I am happy to report that several leadership and development training courses were concluded and over three hundred (300) participants benefited from the training at the Sir Wright F George Police Training Academy.
Additionally, we participated in several training courses and webinars through CARICOM IMPACS CBSI system and other online platforms. The contributions of these training programmes have improved our performance and efficiency.
In the midst of the disruptions of 2020, the police force has remained committed to our mandate and each member has made their contribution in a different way. Our efforts have reduced the crime level and we have maintained a stable and peaceful society.
We were called upon to investigate a number of major crimes, and our investigators along with local, regional and international partners have done tremendous work and have brought closure to many of the cases. We remain optimistic as they forge ahead with the other ongoing investigations. The investigators must be commended and we express thanks to the public for their understanding and support.
As we approach 2021 in this era of change and adjustments, I urge each of us to remain focused on our role and responsibilities to this nation. Let us be positive examples to our community as we confront and battle this pandemic. Let us continue to perform our regular functions with integrity and professionalism.
In 2021, we are looking forward to greater efforts and contributions from the Government and the private sector in our quest for improved working conditions.
We will continue to value our relationships with the general public and seek ways to mend any gaps that may exist.
Let us be active listeners, quick responders and courteous because together with our community we can prevent and reduce crimes, traffic collisions and various social ills.
I offer my sincerest gratitude to all who have contributed to the achievements of the Police Force during 2020. These include the Government; the private sector; our local, regional and international partners; and the general public.
To my senior management team, the administrative staff, the executive of the Police Welfare Association, and every member of the police force, I say thank you for your continued support and contributions.
There is much more to do in 2021 but with the help of God let us move forward with courage, determination, loyalty and unity as we pledge to provide quality Policing service to the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
I am confident that better days lie ahead and will join with C S Lewis when he said “There are far better things ahead, than any we leave behind.”
On behalf of my family and my administrative staff I extend a Christ filled Christmas to you and your family, and wish a New Year of prosperity in every aspect of your lives.
May God bless us as we prepare to adapt to the changes of 2021 and to serve with fidelity and devotion?